TGBMS: The Final Battle for Ashquorn House

As followers of my family’s eight year battle with Bank of Scotland and its LPA Receivers will already know, we have been fighting to prevent the fire-sale of a building called Ashquorn House in North Shields for the best part of the last four years.

Having already had one void and illegal mortgage cancelled by the Land Registry upon the order of the Property Chamber’s 1st Tier Tribunal in early 2016, the bank then illegally registered an amended version of the void deed, which they claimed was a ‘new charge’, as ordered by the now retired circuit judge, HHJ Behrens, having been made by my father’s former solicitor and a district judge, after my parents refused to grant a new mortgage over the property when the first one was held to be void.

In other words, the bank has registered an amended version of a legal nullity that was removed from the Charges Register because it has no effect as a disposition capable of registration.

The LPA Receivers then proceeded to apply to register the sale of the property to a local developer, whose solicitors have refused to confirm or deny that their client has any existing relationships with the receivers, the bank or their solicitors. Whilst the purported buyer claims that the property has been sold to him for £500K less than the price he almost immediately placed it on the market for, the transfer of ownership has been blocked by our legal objection to it at the Land Registry, on the ground that the receivers are not in possession of the legal right to act in the names of my parents [the trustees at the time of the original void disposition].

The entire application rests upon one serious question to be tried:

Did the trustees ever grant Powers of Attorney to the bank or the receivers?

After much huffing, puffing and gnashing of teeth, the Land Registry asked the receivers to prove that they have the right to sell the property to the buyer. The receivers’ solicitors then asked for a time extension to seek legal advice from the bank’s solicitors, whom, after months of prevaricating and another extension of time, sent the Land Registry a photocopy of a Lloyds Banking Group Power of Attorney Deed. As you can imagine, we were almost gobsmacked at the audacity of such a calamitous move on the grand chessboard.

The instrument in question, which the receivers were claiming as evidence that the trustees granted powers of attorney, in reality grants such powers to Lloyds Baking Group employees only, at the express exclusion of non-bank employees, which necessarily includes the receivers. It goes without saying that the trustees are not a party that is affected by its terms in any way whatsoever.

Against all the odds, the Objections Officer at the Land Registry upheld our objection and agreed that we had demonstrated reasonable grounds for cancelling the application to transfer ownership of Ashquorn House. When the prospective buyer appealed the decision to the 1st Tier Tribunal at the Property Chamber, despite the fact that he had failed to serve documents he was ordered to serve on the trustees, the lower tribunal overturned the Land Registry’s upholding of our legal objection to the sale, without appropriate explanation and without a hearing of the evidence.

The trustees quickly challenged the decision in an application for permission to appeal, but the lower tribunal refused on the tenuous ground that it didn’t have any prospect of success and they denied us an oral hearing; which meant that our only recourse was to make an application to the Upper Tribunal of the Property Chamber, a judge of which quickly overturned the lower tribunal’s decision, ordering that the permission application [and the appeal, if granted] will be heard in the last week of June.

Whilst it has long-since been my default position to calmly expect that the rigged system will do all it can to deny us any possibility of justice being done, the last time we were in such a situation the Property Chamber eventually ruled in our favour. In addition, the Upper Tribunal has already discarded the opportunity to railroad our application without a hearing, so that the illegal transfer and sale of the property at a vast profit could proceed without any further interference.

Therefore, on the balance of probabilities, I cautiously predict that only yet more endemic corruption, deception and treachery can now prevent the following from transpiring over the coming months:

  1. Permission will be granted at the start of the hearing and the trustees will win their appeal, on the ground that there is no valid Power of Attorney Deed executed by them in existence, without which no powers of attorney has been conveyed to the receivers, without which they don’t have the legal right to act in the names of the trustees in the disposition of any interest in or over the property.
  2. Since this applies to dozens of entries made my the receivers, pertaining to the illegal fire-sales of nine other properties, the Land Registry will have no choice to but grant our outstanding application to remove every one of them from the register, on the same ground as above, as per one of the points taken in our case, Bank of Scotland v Waugh & Others [2015] no powers of attorney are conferred by standard mortgage conditions.
  3. Having acquired testimony from a woman who illegally witnessed four of the disputed mortgages, affirming that she did not do so at the time and place of signature, those four void deeds, each of which pertains to now fire-sold property, will be cancelled retrospectively, on the ground that none of them were witnessed in accordance with section 1 of the Law of Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1989, as per the other point established in our case a mortgage deed is void under section 52(1) of the Law of Property Act 1925, if the signature was not witnessed by the person attesting to it.

As if that wouldn’t be more than enough to stoke the metaphorical bonfires of fraudulent mortgages at the Land Registry, on the basis that the Chief Land Registrar is bound under the Swift Ltd case to indemnify every mortgagor who suffers losses as a result of the rectification of the register; the much-delayed multi-platform release of The Great British Mortgage Swindle will also finally take place in the Autumn, the story of which I will soon relay in a separate post.

Suffice to say that, for the past four months we have been working with perhaps the best independent film sales and marketing company in the world [press release coming soon], who have helped us put together marketing materials for a wide international campaign with the following tagline:

11 million mortgages, 3 million unlawful evictions and 1 group of mavericks who refused to take lies for truth and made history in the process.

Whilst I can’t take credit for the tagline, both the film and the facts will speak for themselves, as the Ministry of Justice has released data which shows that the number of annual mortgage repossessions enforced by the courts fell from around 25,000 to under 5,000, during the six year production period of TGBMS, a film which chronicles the struggles of the very people who made that happen. Not for the first time, I salute each and every one of you. Together, as always, we will prevail.

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